Sunday, 2 February 2014

Saint Aithmet of Clogher, February 2

February 2 is the feast of Saint Aithmet, remembered as a Bishop of the See of Clogher. In his account below, Canon O'Hanlon is not convinced by the attempts of the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, to identify our saint with a reputed biographer of Saint Patrick, but it seems that apart from the entries on the Irish calendars, Colgan is the only source of information:

St. Aithmet, Bishop of Clogher, County of Tyrone.

[Probably in the Sixth, Seventh or Eighth Century. ]

With such prestige as the Christian pastors left to our early sees, the Irishman's heart must be inspired, his mind must be expanded, and his soul must be improved. It  is mentioned, in the Martyrologies of Tallagh, of Marianus O'Gorman, and of Donegal, that Aithmet, a Bishop of Clochar, had a festival, at this date. He flourished at rather an early period. The present saint is named Ermedus or Hermetius, by Colgan, and his festival is assigned to the 2nd of February. Reference is made to the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, and to Ussher, for some particulars regarding him. Ermedus, Bishop of Clogher, is said to have written a Life of St. Patrick but, at what particular period he flourished does not seem to be known. Even the date for his festival becomes a subject of controversy nor, is it necessary, always to class individuals, similarly named in the Acts of our Saints, with the same category. The present parish of Clogher, in a barony, likewise so called, is of very considerable extent. Colgan places this saint, as a successor to Liberius, Bishop, over this see. We are left to infer from such a position, that the present saint flourished, probably long after A.D. 550, but previous to A.D. 731. In pre-Christian times, this place had obtained celebrity. The very curious old moats, forts and an ancient graveyard, near the town of Clogher, are shown on the Ordnance Survey Townland Maps, for the County of Tyrone. These well deserve a more careful antiquarian enquiry, and investigation, than they have yet obtained.

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